Like much of America and the world, my children and I have been watching the 2018 Winter Olympics. There are more than a few amazing life lessons to be learned from the proceedings.
*If and when you fall, get back up and keep going.
*We can overcome our differences and work together as a team.
*If you try to cheat the system, you will eventually get caught and punished.
*There is no age limit to success.
*The only color of skin is ‘people color’.
*You can overcome your obstacles.
*You don’t have to win to be a winner.
The list goes on and on, including some unexpected lessons derived from a Johnny Weir-Do – not Doe…as in deer (a female deer), do as in hair ‘do’.
If you have been following the PyeongChang Olympic ice skating events at all, then you have probably noticed Johnny and his colorful fashion choices. My children certainly have; after all, they are kind of hard to miss! Whether he is sporting a red, sequined sports jacket or a chunky necklace with zirconiums the size of my hand, his style is always uniquely, distinctly his. And, of course, he always has fabulous hair to match.
As we watched the women’s short programs, Johnny’s face filled our screen in full commentator glory. Of course, his appearance did not disappoint. As he broke down the elements of one of the skaters for our layman understanding, my oldest child suddenly blurted out a very rude, unkind comment about his unique and very prismatic appearance.
I didn’t laugh. I didn’t agree. I certainly didn’t ignore it.
Her father and I both immediately and without hesitation reprimanded and corrected said child. Because it is absolutely unacceptable.
We are inborn with the ability to be mean. REALLY mean. Simply take a look at any elementary playground at recess and this fact becomes inarguably apparent. Anyone that doesn’t look, speak, believe, or act the way we do is quickly singled out and outcast. It is our job as parents to quickly admonish and correct this behavior.
Humans are born with an indwelling propensity for cruelty. It is our responsibility as adults to teach our children that this behavior is absolutely, irrefutably, without a shadow of a doubt NOT okay. Just because someone doesn’t fit neatly into our preconceived notions of normalcy does not give us an inalienable right to demean, belittle, bully, or devalue another human being. Ever.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” All of them. Not the ones whose looks we find agreeable. Not the ones whose political beliefs we can jig with. Not the ones who love the people we deem okay. Not the ones whose wardrobe we find acceptable.
We do not get to choose, because God already chose. Them.
But He didn’t just leave it there because He knows we royally suck at being kind to one another. He left us explicit instructions. “Love thy neighbor. Pray for your enemy. Turn your cheek. Blessed are the persecuted. If someone takes your cloak, give him your tunic too. Put others before yourself. Whatever you do to the least of these…you do to me.”
Hard stuff. Really hard.
Then, because He knew we would still mess it up, He came to this little round piece of dirt, inserted himself into in the midst of our cruelty and brokenness, and demonstrated what this meant with His own life. He gave us a living, breathing example to follow. And what did He do?
He called out to lepers, dined with tax collectors, mingled with Samaritans, allowed bleeding women to touch him, consorted with raving mad lunatics in graveyards, washed dirty feet, and even had his entrance into our world announced by shepherds. He spent His every waking moment with the “Johnnys” of the world.
Oh. And he also called those swathed in their own legalistic, judgmental religiosity a hypocritical brood of vipers.
The dirtiest, lowliest, uncleanest, most detested, socially unacceptable people on the planet? That’s who Jesus spent his time with. And he didn’t make fun of them. He didn’t bully them. He didn’t make snide Facebook replies about their lives..or hair do’s.
He loved them fiercely. He healed them. He sought them unwaveringly. He touched them. He talked to them. He fed them. He encouraged them. He shed His blood for them. He stood courageously in the void between the stones and their brokenness.
I am convinced that this is the root of our social problems. We continue to treat people out of the cruelty of our flesh instead of with the compassion of our Lord. And let’s not fool ourselves. It’s not just the children. It’s us.
You need only to look at our grownup playgrounds – social media – and this fact becomes inarguably apparent. We are telling our children to ‘play nice’ while exemplifying cruelty and loathing to them. We are the example by which they have learned their morbid behaviors. Us. We are setting the bar of hatred high, friends.
Then we scratch our heads and wonder what is wrong with society. Isn’t it obvious? They are just the personification of the lessons with which we have, ourselves, educated them.
This is what I told my children. Having a Weir-‘do’ does not make someone a weirdo – being hateful and cruel does. As long as they are under my roof, we will not make fun of another human being. We will not call anyone names. We will not outcast someone because they do not look, believe, love, or act the way we do. We will not judge another person by their outer shell.
We will not conform to the bitterness and cruelty of society. We will not use our words as weapons against another. We will not choose to hate for the sake of hate. We will not cultivate a culture of cruelty and fear. We will not apologize for fierce love.
We will be different.
We will look beyond the outside to the image of God implanted within each and every person. We will respond to negativity with gentleness and exceeding class. We will fill the internet with kindness and joy. We will embrace those people who are ‘different’ and love the Johnnys that cross our path fiercely and genuinely.
We will live each and every single day like we actually believe that Jesus was and IS who He said He was and is, and we will treat people the way He taught us to treat them. We will stand courageously in the void between the stones and their brokenness.
And hopefully, in the process, we will get the chance to love the Hell out of a few people.
Because hatred? It’s not working. You need only look at the playground to see that.
Beautifully, Brokenly Yours,